So yeah, LBJ can play a bit - the no-look to Flip Murray at the end of the 3rd got me out of my very plush chair (no mean feat, I might add.)
Since that's established, people are already starting to wonder what happens when his rookie contract is up after next season. Obviously, he gets a max deal anywhere, so the argument essentially becomes whether he can have more success (both on-court and endorsement wise. I can't even speculate as to the relative weight he'll give those two factors) in Cleveland then in some other town where they might have cap space. (To which Knicks fans say Thanks, Zeke for sparing us that possible headache.)
Many contend that for him to reach his full 'potential' he has to find a 'bigger market.' I question this wisdom. For one thing, bigger how? Would Nike be paying him more if he played for the Bulls?
But more than this, I think there are dynamics unique to the NBA which make such 'big market' concerns relatively unimportant. First, NBA players have a far more individualied fanbase than other sports. I'd suggest several reasons.
- Built in admirers from college (and increasingly high school)
- Inherent individuality of basketball
- Increasing intimacy involved with sitting closer and the guys wearing shorts, t-shirts, and most importantly, no hats/helmets.
Besides, LeBron is the hometown hero in Cleveland, if he somehow landed in NYC is it clear he'd be the alpha dog over Jeter or Eli Manning? So market size doesn't neccesarily mean much to him. (Unless Spago is that important to him...)
Further, I don't think it's especially important to the league for the big market teams to be good - style is much more important. If Phoenix were to play Miami in the finals this year (hey, a guy can dream, right) people would watch because the games would be exciting. In contrast if the Pistons were to play the Mavs, not so much. The league wants him (and other stars) on good teams, I don't think they particularly care where.